In 2017 Abbotsford would be referred to as the “murder capital of Canada”. Measured on a per capita basis Abbotsford was more murderous than any other City in Canada. To put it into further comparison our rate of 6.43 murders per 100,000 people is higher than the American national average of 4.9. It is more than 300% higher than the neighboring Idaho State’s average of 1.9 where more than 50% of homes have a gun. This is unacceptable.
Combatting the gangs and preventing young men from entering:
My Campaign will propose a two-part platform to combat gangs. The first part will combat the problems we have now and the second part will provide a dramatic injection of community effort and capital into steering the young men who are 11 and 12 years old now away from ever joining a gang.
First part: Fighting the gangs now
- The current anti-gang taskforce of the Abbotsford Police Department is comprised of 4 fulltime members. I propose that should be doubled to 8 full-time dedicated officers.
- Let it be known that Abbotsford will fight with a renewed vigor and will arrest and prosecute for small offenses from those that are in gangs and a part of them. It is referred to as the “New York” method and can be quite applicable here too. By showing we are no longer willing to tolerate this it will have an effect on the larger crime scale.
Second part: Protecting today’s young men who are vulnerable to joining gangs is an effort that can only succeed with community involvement and buy-in. I believe our community is at a tipping point where the support is there for dramatic actions. Our past few years have been disastrous and the actions we take now will affect what the crime landscape looks like 5 years from now.
- Full-time dedicated Abbotsford Police Laison officers supporting the Hansen/Reimer high school/middle school complex and full-time liaisons also at Mouat/Howe and Abby Sr/Abby Middle. Those liaison officers should expect a 4-5 year posting where they can get fully ingrained in the schools and also involved with the after school programs offered. A positive role model is so important and they will also be there to work with youth identified of being at risk of imminently joining a gang.
- Young men need to be kept busy between the hours of 2:30 when school is out and 5:30 when mom and dad are home. I am a believer in the power of sport and extracurricular involvement to create meaning and connectedness for these young men. The City of Surrey’s “Wraparound Program” provided such settings and time to vulnerable youth and it has been a resounding success. Kids are 67% less likely to ever have a future run-in with a police officer after having been a part of this program. In the immediate and near-term the City of Abbotsford needs to partner with SD34 and the community at large to setup these programs and be there for these young men. These are programs worth having and they’re programs worth funding.
Dealing with property crime and offenses by the homeless:
Property crime has spiked in Abbotsford over the past 2 years. Previous great strides and leaps forward by the APD have come undone. Property crime makes us feel vulnerable in our homes and unsafe in our surroundings. The APD has said that there are 1% of the individuals who are responsible for 99% of the property crime. Previous Crime Sweeps by the APD have yielded tremendous results and have identified, targeted and arrested those responsible.
The campaign’s homelessness strategy will be released on September 28, 2018 and will give Abbotsford great hope to see that their city will be taken back. The rights (per the Supreme Court) of the homeless will be respected; however, a designated homeless site will be made and camping overnight in parks and running stolen shopping carts with stolen property around town all day will no longer be tolerated. Abbotsford residents will no longer need to do a quick visual sweep of a playground for needles before they send their children out to play.
The APD will be given the incremental manpower to deal with crimes committed by homeless people, to enforce the laws and to perform the targeted “Crime Sweeps” that have proven to work. Perpetual offenders will ideally be someday given the ultimatum to either go to rehab or go to jail.
Better equipping the APD to deal with mental health related calls
I have always said that individual cities are like laboratories of democracy. Each has the right to try things a different way and be held responsible to their residents and taxpayers for the success or risk of failure. Good ideas that demonstrate success can be used by other jurisdictions with similar circumstances. One such idea that has proven success in Surrey, New Westminster and other cities is referred to as “Car 67”. Car 67 is a dedicated resource for the police department with an officer that has supplemental training to handle the mental health calls that are only becoming more common. When somebody is having a breakdown or mental health episode it serves everybody best to have an officer respond who is ready and experienced to handle this call and has with him/her a Fraser Health RPN(Registered Psychiatric Nurse) to assist. Beyond responding to calls as they come in that officer(and nurse) can proactively take action with individuals who have been repeatedly problematic and make sure they’re doing ok and have taken their medications. Those proactive demonstrations can save massive amounts of difficulty and trouble after.
This Car 67 is a specialized resource and it is quite possible that Mission and Chilliwack might want to have access to the APD resource and may want to participate on a cost-share service agreement.
Positioning on retail marijuana sales and dispensaries
By the end of the election campaign marijuana will have become legal in Canada. The cities have been given the right to regulate the retail sales in their communities. My positioning and response is a pragmatic one. I want no marijuana sold illegally by street corner drug dealers. The demand will not be going down so if there are no retail options it will be the street corner dealer that will thrive. So I will support retail dispensaries. I expect an environment similar to the sale and distribution of alcohol. If a store refuses to abide by the reasonable rules and regulations they must not be permitted to operate. They must be closed.